Sage Chapel Cemetery is being Nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. A hearing by the Missouri Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (Agenda Here) to consider referral to the U.S. National Park Service will take place in the Lewis and Clark State Office Building, La Charrette Conference Room, 1101 Riverside Dr., Jefferson City, Missouri on August 10, 2018 at 10 a.m.. A Copy of the Nomination can be found here and this is a public meeting open to comment. This nomination is being made in behalf of all of those buried at Sage Chapel Cemetery and support is greatly appreciated.
Mary Edwards passed away of tuberculosis on November 20, 1921. She was born enslaved on June 18, in about 1855 or 1856, to Charles and Martha Stone, who were both born slaves in Missouri. She grew up in north Saint Louis County along the Missouri River near Baden. She and her husband Jim Edwards, grew up together, were childhood friends, and they married at the close of the Civil War. Mary bore eleven children, ten of which survived. They were Marshall (who preceded her and is also buried at Sage Chapel Cemetery), Diane (1875), John (1877) Sophia (1881), Louis (1886), Alvin “Trevy” (who preceded her and is also buried at Sage Chapel Cemetery) George “Sedell” (1891), Lena (1895) Mamie (1910) and Slater (1898). She moved to today’s O’Fallon right after James and she married, and they made their home on St. Peters Road, later referred to as “the hill”, today known as Sonderen. She was buried by the Keithly Funeral home. Mary lays buried in Sage Chapel Cemetery.
On August 20th, in 1881, Mahala (Keithly) and her husband Jasper Costlio had transferred to the Trustees of an African Methodist Episcopal Church for the use by the Conference, one acre of land, which became known as Sage Chapel Cemetery. This was done so that the former slaves of Samuel Keithly could continue to be buried in this cemetery. That same deed conveyed a one-half acre parcel on Sonderen Street to be used for a church known as Sage’s Chapel. The members of Cravens Methodist, and Wishwell Baptist, also located on Sonderen Street, also used this cemetery to bury their families. None of these churches or their records exist anymore. Sage Chapel Cemetery is a former African American community cemetery that is maintained by the City of O’Fallon, Missouri, located at 8500 Veterans Memorial Parkway. It has 117 documented burials of which only 37 have headstones, of these we know that 17 were born enslaved. (2018) May they rest in peace “As long as a name can be spoken, that person shall not be forgotten.”
[Mary’s broken headstone was first documented by historian Lucille Wiechens in 1988 in the same condition it is today. It has been identified and documented today by research into death records, census records and other genealogical data.]
Historic Sage Chapel Cemetery lies west of the V.F.W. Post 5077 on Veterans Memorial Parkway in O’Fallon, Missouri and was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places by Dorris Keeven-Franke, Justin Watkins, and Amber Cox. This early cemetery, comprised of 117 documented burials many of whom were former slaves was officially established by Trustees of an African-Methodist Episcopal Church in 1881. At that time Jefferson Franklin Sage was a Minister of the Gospel with the St. Charles A.M.E Conference. Today, only 37 burials still have headstones to document this cemetery and there are at least 80 additional burials, documented by research found in Death Certificates, newspapers and genealogical research. Other documentation found by local historians Mary Hogan Smith and Karolyn Terpstra has assisted the writers as well. On August 10, 2018, the nomination was heard at the Missouri Advisory Council on Historic Preservation meeting and given unanimous approval.
Watkins serves on the Board of the St. Charles County Historical Society and is head of the society’s Cemetery Committee. He received the Heritage Award for his “Baptists on a Mission” article in the St. Charles County Heritage. Watkins is also secretary of the board of the Ambassadors of Harmony, a barbershop harmony chorus, and wrote the chorus’ history for the chorus’ website in 2013.
Keeven-Franke is Executive Director of the Missouri Germans Consortium, serves as a member of O’Fallon’s Historic Preservation Commission (CLG). Curator for the St. Charles County Veterans Museum, and is an author, preservationist, and public historian.
Amber Cox is a National Register and Architectural Survey Missouri’s State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).
The process of nominating the cemetery began in 2017, when an Eligibility Assessment was presented to the SHPO. The next step for Sage Chapel Cemetery began in December of 2017 with preparation of the actual nomination. According to the SHPO website “The National Register of Historic Places includes districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering and culture. These resources contribute to an understanding of the historical and cultural foundations of the nation. Missouri, where the program is administered by the Department of Natural Resources’ State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), boasts more than 2,000 listings (= more than 35,000 individual resources) in the National Register, all nominations are reviewed at the state level by the SHPO staff and the Missouri Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. The Missouri Advisory Council is a body of preservation professionals and laypersons appointed by the Governor to review National Register nominations and provide input on preservation issues.”
The nomination was heard and approved by the Missouri Advisory Council on August 10, 2018 and went forward to the National Park Service (NPS). It was placed on the Register on November 13, 2018.